Cold Cave follow their acclaimed recent album with an EP for Matador. Main tune, and album cut, ‘Love Comes Close’ comes close to being really good. But there’s something missing. Our man Wes Eisold used to be in screamy hardcore band Give Up The Ghost. Really good, it was. But times change, and Wes is to be applauded for the stylistic leap he has taken for the Cold Cave project. Only problem is it’s a bit by-numbers (as much as a Michael Gira-fronting-New Order deal could ever be). It’s catchy, and well-made, but a bit karaoke, and lacks that steely inhumanity that characterises the best synth pop. It’s ‘Goodbye Horses’, by way of Flight Of The Conchords’ David Bowie impression.
The other tracks on the EP are far more successful. Killer electro-pop sounds either like robots making music with heart-warming humanity (Kraftwerk, Perrey-Kingsley, Yello) or humans making music with heartless efficiency (everyone else). R&B songstress Cassie got this right on her ‘Me&U’ single, as Eisold does on ‘Double Lives in Single Beds’. Opening like a pop take on Burial’s ghost-bleeps haunting housing estates, its vibrant, broad, synth brush strokes give it a sound of its own.
‘Theme From Tomorrowland’ sees androids dreaming of electric romance in fibre-optic bedsits. There’s even a hint of Springsteen’s escapist fantasy, albeit updated for a digitally nihilistic age, our protagonists singing ‘I don’t know where I’m coming to / And I don’t care if I never ever get there.’ Final track, ‘Now That I’m In The Future’, is the musically darkest song, threatening to suffocate the listener in the shifting sands of cyberpunk excess.
The overall experience is emotionally hollow, but with a strange feeling of science fiction satisfaction, like getting pick-pocketed by a replicant in metallic leggings. ‘The future comes when the past decays’, Eisold observes. Whether this is a reference to his falling out of love with hardcore punk, or to the current trend for faux-naive synth-popsters springing up like so many silicon shrooms, is unknown.